Tell me your pet stories today and you’ll have a chance to win a hardcover copy of my new book, Under the Dog Star – plus the right to name an animal in a future novel.
Under the Dog Star is a mystery, first and foremost, but it’s also about veterinarian Rachel Goddard’s determination to rescue abandoned and mistreated dogs and give them the better life they deserve. Rachel doesn’t resemble her creator in many ways, but she gets her passion for protecting animals directly from me. I’ve spent many years of my life with wonderful, loving pets that other people didn’t want or wouldn’t care for properly.
On two different occasions when I was much younger, I swiped kittens from people who were neglecting them so seriously that I feared for their lives. I kept one. I gave the other – a tiny ball of white fur that was forced to sleep outside, regardless of the weather – to a friend’s mother, who named her Mary and loved her dearly for the rest of her pampered life. (Mary’s story, slightly altered, is mentioned in my book Broken Places.)
My husband and I have had several cats that came to us because their original owners didn’t want them. Sam, a beautiful blond tabby, was a neighborhood cat who visited me when I worked in my garden. I never knew who he belonged to. Then came a day when he wouldn’t leave and was obviously hungry. We couldn’t locate his owners, and we concluded they had moved and left him behind. Sammy became ours, and we cherished him.
Frank was immediately recognizable as a stray or abandoned cat. Despite prodigious hunting skills, he was so thin I could see the outlines of his ribs, and he had bald patches in his dull coat. One ear had been almost completely torn off, probably in a fight with another roaming cat. Frank had once had a home – he wore an old flea collar – but he’d been on his own for a long time and might not survive another winter. I began feeding him. He wanted the food but was so wary of people that it took a couple of months to persuade him to let me touch him lightly and briefly. After trust was established, Frank became our cat. I cut off that old flea collar, we had him neutered, he put on weight and his blotchy black and white fur grew thick and shiny. He was never a beauty, but his joy in belonging somewhere at last gave him a proud demeanor that would charm anyone. Frank died many years ago, but he lives on as Rachel’s one-eared, squawky-voiced cat in my books.
Simon had grown up with Nicholas, our first Abyssinian, and when Nicky died we wanted to bring kittens into the house to help Simon – and us – endure the loss. We wanted another Aby, but we also wanted to give a home to a kitten that desperately needed one. Before Gabriel, a ruddy Abyssinian like Nicky, was old enough for us to take him from the breeder’s home, we found Emma through the Feline Foundation of Greater Washington.
Have you adopted a homeless dog or cat? Tell me your story and you’ll have a chance to win a free copy of Under the Dog Star and name an animal in a future book.
Find and support a no-kill animal shelter in your area. http://www.nokillnetwork.org/